Dona Maria’s Translations into Spanish
The Conquistadors Come to Town
Cortés was, of course, a proud Spaniard proudly strutting around speaking Spanish, but Mexico was crawling with proud Maya strutting around speaking Mayan and proud Aztecs strutting around speaking Nahuatl. Cortés spoke neither, and so, like so many conquerors before and after him, he had to rely on a translator. This was fine in Mayan country, where he was able to communicate through a Spanish translator named Jerónimo who spoke Mayan, but in Aztec country he was in trouble.
Marina the Mellifluous
Luckily Doña Marina was was much more talented than Jerónimo. It wasn’t long before she said “forget this guy” and just learned Spanish herself, putting him permanently out of the link. From then on she was an integral part of Cortés’ operation, and he had her by his side at all times. She even bore him a son who is symbolically recognized as being the first mestizo. And get this: it all happened before her 17th birthday!
Cortés went on to conquer the city of Tenochtitlán and overthrow Moctezuma, the head of the whole Aztec empire. Through Doña Marina he toppled an empire, and Mexico was changed forever. For this reason Doña Marina, commonly known as La Malinche, is considered by many to be the ultimate traitor to her people. Others counter that her position left her no freedom to choose loyalties. Either way, she undoubtedly altered the course of history.
What do you think?